Ask any of us who travel around speaking at colleges and universities, and most of us will tell you the most challenging audience we encounter is the college chapel crowd. I believe you’ve got less than a minute to gain the attention … I did my best at Southeastern University but somehow that college chapel audience was, if not the best I’ve addressed, it was among the best.
I received an invitation from Charlie Dawes, an enthusiastic, thoughtful and hard-working young leader at Southeastern University to speak to the students for chapel and then do some Q&R and meet with some smaller groups on campus. That the first year students were reading One.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow made the experience so much more important to me — not the least of which was because a bundle of students had good questions about the topics in the book.
Instead of speaking through a chapter or two in the book, I chose to examine the problem Western Christianity has created: the distinction between believers/Christians and followers/disciples. This opened the opportunity to address three themes about Following Jesus: the image of Fishing (Mark 1:16-20), the issue of Family Burial (Luke 9:57-62), and the need to see Following as Extending Jesus into our world (Matthew 4:23; 9:35 and 10:1-4). I was in my last minute when I walked off the platform! Here’s the thesis: I Follow, therefore I am.
Through it all Charlie kept an eye on what was happening, but behind Charlie was the exceptional Danielle Shryock. She’s a fellow Illinoisan and Cubs fan (and so is Charlie!) but she kept both Charlie and me in line all day. Wonderful experience with the good folks at Southeastern.